I’m really excited for 2016. I already feel a lot more organized in terms of my finances as well as my life in general. I’ve been able to go on regular runs, pack my lunch, and track my expenses daily. This is already a major improvement from the last couple of months.
This budget below represents a normal month of spending for me going forward – with the exception of the Fitness category – RD and I are determined to take a belay refresher course as well as buy a punch card to a local climbing gym. We already have climbing shoes, harness, and accessories, so no need to buy anything else. I’m really excited to start climbing again!
In an effort to curb our Food & Entertainment budget, we have decided to only go out to eat together once per week (unless we have social obligations, which are rare). When we first started dating, we were in restaurants at least 2-3 times per week. It was out of control, and not great for our waistlines. Now that we have our own space, it’s a lot easier and more pleasant to plan and cook meals at home.
If I can stick to this budget below, I’ll be able to save about 50% of my net income from my full-time job in January.
January 2016 Goals:
- Run once per week. I know that I can’t fully commit to running during field hockey season, but I’ve been running during the winter break, and have been loving it.
- Transfer all my banking over to Tangerine. I’ve been using a two-bank system for years and it has worked out well. However, PC Financial recently redesigned their website and I don’t want to sound like a design snob, but I can’t handle the interface. So everything is being moved over, and I need to coordinate my direct deposits, auto debits, and all other accounts that have previously been linked to my PFC accounts.
- Pack my lunch 4x/week & no take-out coffee (unless social). For a while I got into the habit of grabbing a drip coffee from the cafe across the street from my office. But I can make coffee at home, and my new office provides it for free, so there’s no excuse. All lunch options around here are pretty pricey, so it’s bagged lunches for me most of the time. :)
- Be a good roommate. It’s been a while since I’ve lived with someone else, so it will take time for me to adjust and compromise. But I’m going to work hard at it this month, since I know RD is a lot tidier than me.
December was an expensive month, but I think I did a decent job at staying on budget. I thought I’d have to pay both mortgage payments during the month, but it turns out with the way the house sale went, I only had to make one payment. I’m also really glad that I buffered in $700 for household expenses, because we ended up having to buy a new couch when mine wouldn’t fit in the house! We found a new one relatively quickly on Craigslist for $400 … and while it’s definitely not as nice as my old one, it’ll do for now. :)
- Maintenance/Strata – I made an error and didn’t calculate the right amount for my budget.
- Cell Phone – Same as above. My cell phone plan dropped in price (for some reason), and I didn’t calculate the discount properly.
- Entertainment – RD and I went out for a fancy dinner with my cousin.
- Clothing – I repaired a pair of boots ($15.75) and bought a t-shirt.
- Personal Care – I got my hair cut!
- Miscellaneous – Went a little over budget on the gift giving. My sister and I bought my parents a short getaway to Tofino for Christmas, and it ended up being a little more expensive than we thought.
December 2015 Goals:
- Stay on budget with household expenses. CHECK! The $690.95 I spent includes my share of a new kitchen island, a used couch on Craiglist, the cost of a moving van, as well as a few odds and ends like coat racks, storage baskets, etc. I’m extremely pleased that we were able to stay on budget even factoring in that couch (which we didn’t think we’d have to buy).
- Look at gym options. CHECK! I’m going to just go to the rec centre just a 10 min. walk from our house. It just makes sense to buy a punch card and not actually join a gym. With field hockey and rock climbing on the go, I won’t be able to go to the gym more than once or twice a week anyway.
- Figure out my house sale. CHECK! I’m going to put most of it into my TFSA, while keeping enough room for my 2016 investment contributions.
- Look into increasing my RRSP/TFSA contributions. CHECK! I’ve increased my automatic contributions to $1,050/month. Once my employer contributions start in 90 days, that amount will be increased to about $1,300/month.
December is going to be a painful month for spending. Especially because I missed a pay cheque in November due to taking some time off before starting my new job. But my saving grace is that I billed out for $8,500 in freelance income last month. After a slow start, 2015 is going to end up being a pretty good year for freelancing. I’m nowhere near the amount I used to make back in 2011 or 2012, but I’m only putting in 5+ hours per week compared to 25-30 hours I used to work. Now that I’m getting back into the habit of blogging on a regular basis again, I’m excited to look into a potential rebrand for this website.
Usually by now I’ve finished my Christmas shopping, but so far I’ve only bought something for my sister. As for RD and I, we decided to spend money on an experience together instead of stuff. RD came up with the brilliant idea of buying a 10-pack of Vancouver Canadians tickets for the upcoming season ($120 for 10 tickets + 4 bonus tickets = 7 games together). We both like baseball, and the stadium is just a short walk from our house ! :) That leaves my parents to buy for, as well as my sister’s boyfriend. The budget for all of this falls under the Miscellaneous category.
This month I’ve included something new into the budget – my savings goals. I’m not sure if I’m going to keep this going forward, but it’s here for now. Even though I don’t disclose my exact salary (for privacy reasons), I think it’s useful to show how much I’m saving versus how much I’m spending. Going forward, I’ll make somewhere between $80-90k annually between freelancing and my full-time job. But because freelancing is so sporadic and I cannot predict when I’ll be getting paid for the work that I do, I can’t change my monthly savings amounts to reflect that.
These savings amounts account for everything that is automatically debited from my accounts every pay day. It doesn’t show my actual savings rate (which is usually higher, depending on how much I actually end up spending in the month, as well as how much freelance income I bring in). I think that come January, I’ll be able to save about 60% of my net income on average.
The amounts below also only indicate my personal contributions, and do not account for employer contributions through the company RRSP or SPP. I will be eligible for RRSP matching after 3 months, and employer SPP match contributions only happen once a year.
December 2015 Goals:
- Stay on budget with household expenses. We have priced out a bed and a kitchen island, and it should come to about $550 each after tax. This is quite reasonable considering both items are practical and can be used for many years. Hopefully we don’t have to buy any other big ticket items, but there’ll be a lot of smaller storage solution items that we’ll need to pick up. We also have access to a truck to move our furniture, but if it’s raining, we’ll likely rent a van instead.
- Look at gym options. What was nice about my old job is that there was a decent gym in the building that we could all use for free. My new job doesn’t have a gym, but luckily there’s a rec centre just a 10 min. walk from the new place, as well as a couple of places like Steve Nash or Fitness World (anyone have any experience with these companies? I’ve only ever gone to rec centres).
- Figure out my house sale. Mainly the financial part of it – where is that wad of cash going to sit? Decisions must be made.
- Look into increasing my RRSP/TFSA contributions. My goal for 2015 was to increase these contributions to at least $800/month. They currently sit at $950, and will increase to $1,200 once my employer contributions kick in. But I know I could be saving more.